Ouch! 2016 Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon

Grandma’s Marathon is one of my favorite race events. I grew up in the Northland, so it is part of my running heritage.

Other than a couple of occassions, though, I’ve bypassed the main attraction and run the Garry Bjorklund half marathon. I think I’ve run it four times now.

Because the emphasis is on the full marathon, the logistics for the half are a bit more challenging–I come over from Wisconsin and catch the busses at Race central, the DECC. The problem is with less bussing options and the earlier start time, traffic in the area is chaotic. Every time, I end up stressing that I’m going to miss the busses while in traffic. This year, I jumped out and let my father-chaffeur worry about parking while I rushed to get into line and wait. I was in the last group of busses to leave and got to the starting area 15 minutes prior to kickoff.

In my rush to get to the starting corral, I missed the bag drop. Ended up going back against traffic to drop my bag. One benefit was I did see, almost ran into, my arch-nemesis, Scott, from a nearby town who runs at very similar paces as I do.

I was just entering the corrals as the race started and crossed the starting line about six minutes after the official start. The first three miles were spent weaving traffic and jumping on/off the left shoulder to pass. I knew I was probably wasting effort but I was way back from where I wanted to be.

My training had been consistent, albeit, at a lower level than I would have liked. I was consistent with my weekly long runs-ran a 13.1+ miler on 20 of 22 weekends before tapering the last two weekends. But my weekday running was at a low level, running only 1 or 2 other days a week. So, just like last year, I went in with low expectations. I ran a 1:39 last year so I was hoping for a 1:40 this year.

After the course thinned out a bit, I settled into a decent rythem. I was clocking most of my miles in the 7:45 to 8:00 range, a little off 1:40 pace but it feel tight. It was getting warm and I wanted to run easy early. 

One thing I like to do in the warm races is take a glass of water and hold it on top of my head then pull it down to the back of my neck. I then grab a cup of ice, pinch the wax paper cup closed and carry it with me. I suck on the ice cubes one by one.

Going into a race without high expectations lets me spend more time people-watching. As the race moves into town, there are more spectators to see and interact with. When I’m not race-racing a race, they can be a ton of fun.

Things were going well as I entered town. I had feared an emergency pit stop was going to be required passed and felt good going up Lemon Drop Hill around mile nine.

Not sure if it was the warming temperature, the under-training, or the hill, but my right calf started to tighten around mile ten. The next two miles, it was consistently tight. Just after finishing mile twelve, it full-on cramped and brought me to a stop. I actually cried out, “Ouch!” I tried to stretch it a bit (which I should have done earlier) and tried to gently finish. It severely cramped one more time, eliciting another, “Ouch!”.

I shortened my stride and shuffled the last bit and rumbled in in 3:45-something. Overall, not too bad, felt like I ran a solid effort. The finish was a little disappointing, although it probably only cost me a minute to ninety seconds so really doesn’t define how my race went, just how it ended.

One of the happy side-effects of getting my bag in so late at the start was it was on the last truck to leave and ended up getting stuck in traffic.  I ended up waiting around in the finish area for much longer than normal and got to absorb more of the atmosphere. It was fun sitting and runner-watch for awhile.

After an hour wait, got my bag and we started slowly heading back to the car. We followed the race course backwards and got to cheer for the final halfers and saw the first three marathoners. The runners finishing off the half make me want to cry out of inspiration. They were out there for three hours or more and pushed to the end. Their determination is just moving.

Anyhow, the final numbers:

Time: 1:44:28.

Age Group Place: 37th

Number of places I moved up after the start: 4,202

Potty Breaks: 0

Bacon stations spotted: 2

Amount of bacon consumed: None

Times I heard “Another One Bites The Dust”: 1

“May The Course Be With You” signs spotted: 2

Times I spit: 4

Number of High-5s given/received: 8

Number of “Go Packers” I yelled to other runners/spectators: 7

Number of brats purchased at Superior Meats: 11